Words

May 30, 2012

I like words. I don’t tend to remember them well, but I like them. I like it when I discover their history and how they have evolved into the meaning they carry today. For example, I was talking to a few of the guys from church sometime ago and I was wondering why we yell “Fore!” if/when we hit a golf ball toward someone. Well, thanks to the internet I now have the answer! Many years ago when golf was in its infancy, the primary participants were wealthy aristocrats. It was required that each golfer be accompanied by TWO caddies: one to carry the golf bag and the second to station himself in the fairway to watch for the ball hit by the golfer. That caddie was called the “fore caddie.” So, when the ball was hit toward him someone yelled “Fore caddie!” Since that was quite a mouthful and likely got many caddies beaned before hearing the entire message it was shortened to “Fore.” Pretty cool, huh?

The study of words and their origins is called “etymology.” Not to be confused with “entomology,” the study of bugs. Part of the fun of studying the Bible is to hear about some of these words and how they impact our understanding. No doubt we all know that English is heavily influenced by Latin. But you may not know that English also has a profound connection with ancient Greek. As a matter of fact the New Testament was originally written in a particular form of ancient Greek that would have been understood and spoken by “common people.” It is called “koine” Greek. The word “koine” means “common.”

Acts 1:8 says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Let’s focus on the word “power” for a moment. The Greek word is “dunamis” from which we get the English word “dynamite.” The word “dunamis” has a long and rich history but for our purposes it is helpful to think about the power of dynamite, particularly as it is used in connection with the Holy Spirit. This past week we celebrated Pentecost Sunday, i.e., the day on the Christian calendar when we recognize the coming of the Holy Spirit with power to the early church. Tragically, we in the Presbyterian Church have emasculated the Holy Spirit over the years. We have taken away, or more accurately, we have ignored the “dunamis” available to us through the one Jesus sent to be our counselor, guide, “empowerer”, and source of salvation.

If we are unable or unwilling to recognize the dunamis of the Holy Spirit then we are destined to be ineffective and feeble in our Christian walk. Jesus did not leave us to struggle alone in this world. He left us with the explosive power of the Holy Spirit.

Remember, one of the hallmarks of our faith is the Trinity… Father, Son AND Holy Spirit!

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